Nature

J P via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/97LrDx

The National Park Service reports that only 7% of annual park visitors are African American. On today’s show, we delve into environmental and cultural history to find out why the story of the American outdoors is so white.

Then, in the last census 60 million Americans listed birdwatching as a past time. And who can blame them? Watching birds is like watching tiny adorable flying dinosaurs.  But there's birdwatching and then there's birdwatching. We'll take a look inside the fascinating and pricey world of competitive birding.

A Kettle of One

Sep 6, 2016
David Maher via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/2PWhTk

Each autumn, New Hampshire birders are treated to abundant flocks of broad-winged hawks beginning to migrate south. This September, Word of Mouth’s favorite bird dude Eric Masterson will be biking across five time zones, 40 degrees of latitude and 5000 miles tracking the migration of the raptors. Why? Well, despite the hawks’ impressive numbers, little is known about their migration.

Sadie Hernandez via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7v6aV8

Here at Word of Mouth, we spend a lot of time researching, recording, and listening to wonderful – and sometimes weird – audio. Today, a new installment of “Overheard.” This time we pull in some NHPR colleagues to share some of the best examples of sound the internet has to offer – some healthy curiosity required.

Then, a Pokebattle for the ages. Two teams duke it out over whether Pokémon go helps or hinders the experience of being in the natural world – and tussle over who has the right to decide that.  

5.04.16: National Parks Are Awesome & The Bookshelf

May 4, 2016
Rob via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/apVKxV

With spring springing and trees budding, it's time to think about spending some serious time outdoors. With so many choices, we asked a seasoned travel writer where to go. From Acadia to Yosemite, today we’re unpacking some of the practical and philosophical questions to ask when planning a trip to a national park...including how a park system founded a century ago coexists with our changing population, and an exploration of the national park's premise: creating a contained wilderness. 

Dennis Jarvis via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7jeDS3

Recent public health crises like Ebola and Zika show how fear grabs public and media's attention. But there's another virus potentially be more harmful on a mass scale that's crept under the radar. Today, we'll hear about a virus that's killing off Tilapia by the millions - and what that could mean for our global food supply.

Then, Vladimir Lenin died in 1924 - but you wouldn't know that by looking at his exquisitely preserved corpse. So what's the secret?

4.14.16: The Great Outdoors

Apr 14, 2016
Onasill ~ Bill Badzo via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/kra5oK

"Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein, 1951

Ah, the great outdoors. A place for life, death, and seemingly infinite inspiration. Today is all about the outdoors: capturing its beauty through photography, creating its beauty through manipulation, and rediscovering its beauty in the most unlikely places. Join us for a walk through the wild then share your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to the full show.


mwms1916 via Flickr

As fall comes to a close, winter imminent, there is a quiet that sweeps across New Hampshire. We celebrate the changing of the leaves but once they’ve fallen from the trees there’s really not much to look at before snowfall, right? Of course not! There’s always something waiting to be discovered in your back yard and this time of year is no exception.

Lovepro via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/eHkThL

Cher, Chuck Norris, and Angelina Jolie all claim to be part Cherokee. Today, we’re asking why so many Americans believe they descend from the Cherokee people - among the most commercially popular Native American tribes. And, another indigenous population that once roamed the American plains…from the cave art of early humans to abandoned mustangs on a New Hampshire farm, explore the resilience, intelligence and fierce sociability of horses.

jjjj56cp via flickr Creative Commons

The bird world quiets down by late summer - but not the American goldfinch, one of the most common backyard birds. September brings the chatter of young goldfinches as they follow their male parent. They beg noisily, perched with head thrown back and trembling wings.

Most songbirds switch their diet to high-protein insects when feeding their young, and they nest earlier when insects are most bountiful. For example, chickadees that keep bird-feeders busy in winter disappear in summer as they forage for insects not birdseed.

7.30.15: The Soul of an Octopus & Music for Animals

Jul 30, 2015
DaugaardDK via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/56wGnH

With a beak like a parrot, venom strong enough to dissolve flesh, and eight writhing tentacles, the octopus is among the most mystifying and alien of creatures.

On today’s show, a naturalist reaches across half a billion years of evolution to find the soul of an octopus. Then, how far can the benefits of music therapy reach? One woman brings us the answer. 

5 Things You Might Not Know About Octopuses

Jul 30, 2015
Morten Brekkevold via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/6zgWPm

The mighty octopus features heavily in science fiction stories, playing the part of creepy creature from the deep, from H.P. Lovecraft’s octopus/dragon/man hybrid Cthulhu to the mass of tentacles described by H.G. Wells in his short story "The Sea Raiders":

The condition of New Hampshire’s Great Bay Estuary has been one of the biggest environmental priorities in New Hampshire for decades -- and NHPR has been covering the story extensively.

We were there in 2010, when the Environmental Protection Agency designated Great Bay as officially impaired – meaning it could mandate upgrades to wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the estuary.

Dave Anderson

The patter of rain. Fingers of wind comb the canopy of tender leaves. These are exotic sounds of the new tree canopy in late May. New Hampshire forests are adapted to withstand rigors of wind and weather. Leaf structures reflect inner tree plumbing we rarely consider.

Tubes of the water-moving "xylem" are coiled like springs that stretch and recoil to some degree and not break the tension of water in these drinking straws.  Stem fibers of differing lengths break at different stress points

Davide Zanchettin via flickr Creatiev Commons / flic.kr/p/h261VQ

We’ve heard the claim before – low-income urban kids aren’t getting to spend enough time in the woods.  But what if outdoor education isn’t just about where you live – but how you’re being raised?

On today’s show, our station wide series The First Decade continues, with a look at environmental education. Plus, a bee researcher explains two new studies that offer increasing evidence that a common form of pesticide is harmful to wild bees. And, Dr. Kanye West?  We discuss the function and failures of honorary degrees.  

Make Your Own Bee Hotel

May 20, 2015
Farrukh via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/a3XVAo

After our interview with Dave Goulson author of A Buzz in the Meadow and A Sting in the Tailwe asked him what else we could do to help bees, aside from planting bee-friendly gardens. He mentioned making a "bee hotel." We often think of honeybee hives buzzing with activity, and while communal living is a trait for some bees, other bees are more solitary and they like to nest in holes. Often these holes are left behind by wood boring insects in tree trunks. These days, those holes become harder for bees to come by; the bee equivalent of a housing shortage. For these types of bees, it's a nice gesture to provide them with a place to stay. 

Something Wild: Goldfinches, The Late Nesters

Sep 12, 2014
jjjj56cp via flickr Creative Commons

The bird world quiets down by late summer - but not the American goldfinch, one of the most common backyard birds. September brings the chatter of young goldfinches as they follow their male parent. They beg noisily, perched with head thrown back and trembling wings.

Most songbirds switch their diet to high-protein insects when feeding their young, and they nest earlier when insects are most bountiful. For example, chickadees that keep bird-feeders busy in winter disappear in summer as they forage for insects not birdseed.

Four New Charter Schools Set To Open In New Hampshire

Aug 25, 2014
Mountain Village Charter School

Most students across New Hampshire return to school this week, including students at Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth. The school is one of the state’s four new charter schools opening this fall.

The actual building for Mountain Village Charter School is still under construction. So for the first week, the school’s 38 elementary students will be outside.

Teachers lead the students through a Swahili song and have them bark like dogs - mostly as a way to start the school year on a fun note.

Molly Donahue

One of New Hampshire’s long-time treasures is America’s Stonehenge, an archeological site in North Salem. Opened under the name Mystery Hill Caves in 1958, the site received its current name in the 1980s to distinguish it from more geological sites. Whatever you call it, it’s a New Hampshire classic.  

vixyao via Flickr CC

New Hampshire bills itself as having a terrain for all seasons – the mountains offer climbing and skiing, the forests shelter innumerable hiking trails, and the lakes and rivers draw people in summer and winter alike. We speak with Lucie Bryar about some the state’s best spots for exploring. And, casual dining chains have been experimenting in extreme discounts. We take a look at the logic behind it and speak with one reporter who put these policies to the test. Then, in case you’ve run out of vacation ideas, we have a list of America’s ickiest attractions.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


A Salute To Bobolinks & Henry David Thoreau

Jul 11, 2014
Kelly Colgan Azar via flickr Creative Commons

A tumbling jumble of bird song from across the field announces the presence of bobolinks. In his journals, Henry David Thoreau quoted a Cape Cod child who asked:

"What makes he sing so sweet, Mother? Do he eat flowers?"

6.28.14: Summer Is Here, Get Outside!

Jun 28, 2014
Logan Shannon / NHPR

So long spring, hello summer! Today on Word of Mouth, we head to the great outdoors, starting with the American playground, and how it’s evolved from a place of physical challenges to ultra-safe environment with short slides, and all soft surfaces. Then we’ll hit a different kind of playground for New Hampshire scavengers: the transfer station, or as it known in less polite circles, the dump.


Mark Dumont via Flickr Creative Commons

There’s a film festival coming to New Hampshire, but it’s not what you might expect. Instead of featuring independent films by aspiring artists, this festival will screen videos that have been stuffed into storage bins and garbage cans. Today we have a conversation with the curators of the Found Footage Festival. But first, biologist Frans de Waal on altruism, empathy, kindness and ethics among bonobo chimps. Plus, we catch you up with the Granite State Music Festival, coming to Concord this weekend.

Listen to the whole show and click Read more for individual segments.


The 'Dirt' On Soil

May 30, 2014
NRCS Soil Health via flickr Creative Commons

This time of year finds a lot of people working in their gardens. Good gardeners pay attention to their soil.Just like above ground, there’s a diverse world of wildlife below ground competing for space, nutrients, and performing roles that support life on Earth.

Microscopic bacteria species by the millions; root fungi that deliver nutrients to plants; worms, ants and other insects aerating the soil and adding nutrients through their droppings and—post mortem—as their bodies decay. Minerals laid down long ago are constantly breaking down through weather and erosion.

Water In The Trees

May 23, 2014
Dave Anderson

The patter of rain. Fingers of wind comb the canopy of tender leaves. These are exotic sounds of the new tree canopy in late May. New Hampshire forests are adapted to withstand rigors of wind and weather. Leaf structures reflect inner tree plumbing we rarely consider.

Tubes of the water-moving "xylem" are coiled like springs that stretch and recoil to some degree and not break the tension of water in these drinking straws.  Stem fibers of differing lengths break at different stress points

Favorite Phoebe Nest

May 9, 2014
Dave Anderson

A little phoebe nest is tucked beneath the rafters in my backyard woodshed like a miniature wreath. It’s a curious little relic to behold during those long, cold snowy weeks of hauling winter cordwood. By May, it once more cradles eggs and tiny nestlings.

The elegant little nest cup is woven of green moss, lined with pine needles and dried grass and cemented with warm mud. During winter, that Phoebe’s nest carries the promise of time travel to these fleeting mornings of early May when warm sunshine drenches the Lane River Valley - already now awash in spring bird songs.

Human Behavior In Bonobos

May 7, 2014
Alaina Abplanalp Photography via flickr Creative Commons

Frans de Waal is a distinguished biologist, university professor, and author who specializes in primate social behavior. For years, he’s been bucking prevailing ideas about the nature of human morality and ethics. Over decades of research, he’s found evidence of altruistic and empathic behavior in a number of species, concluding that there is a biological foundation for human morality that emerged from our animal origins.

Peter Essick / Ansel Adams' Wilderness

The outdoors have provided wonder and fascination for millennia. Ansel Adams captured this in his photographs. Playgrounds have inspired this in children the world over. Even transfer stations, what many people mistakenly think are the last stop for the worn out, run down and used, are full of treasures. You just have to know how to look.

Judy van der Velden via flickr Creative Commons

Wait! Don't wish this winter away...not yet.

Before dirty, old snow banks rot and melt onto sun-warmed pavement; before sweet steam of maple sugaring or green thoughts at St. Patrick's Day; remember one perfect day, when winter took your breath away.

NH Has Got Stones!

Jan 10, 2014
davidburn via Flickr/Creative Commons

Winter's transparent landscape offers a great opportunity for boulder appreciation. And New Hampshire has a lot of big ones, deposited by glacier action over 10,000 years ago. As the ice sheet advanced south, at it's glacial pace, it fractured and plucked many large boulders rights off mountain tops. When the glacier eventually receded, it left behind billions of these "glacial boulders." 

State Fern Nominee?

Dec 27, 2013

  New Hampshire's a state insect, the ladybug was nominated by persuasive Concord fifth graders; the pumpkin is our state fruit courtesy of some persuasive Harrisville third and fourth graders. I'd like to plant a seed—or perhaps a spore—for nomination of rock polypody as our state fern. Here's the case.

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